Volunteers Create the True Moments that Matter

Welcome to National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 12 to 18 this year. It’s a time to give thanks and show appreciation for those who selflessly volunteer for a cause close to their heart. As with many nonprofits, here at IMA the service, spirit, and inspiration of our volunteers is something we appreciate and cherish throughout the year around the world. Volunteering has mutual benefits, surely for the organization and for the individuals in building their personal brand, becoming an expert in their field, and building their résumé.

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A personal brand is the identity you project through your values, career, and beliefs. Everyone has a personal brand, but it’s up to you how to manage it. Volunteering for a cause close to your heart is one way to build a personal brand. You can do this through volunteering with an organization, alumni association, or community project. Once you’ve decided on a cause to volunteer for, make it a point to volunteer often and regularly to truly build a name for yourself within that community.

Become an Expert
Being published in magazines or other media sources will help prove that you’re an expert in your field. IMA has various publications that will help you share your expertise, including Strategic Finance and Management Accounting Quarterly, IMA Educational Case Journal, research endorsed by IMA’s Research Foundation, and more. In turn, your contributions can help give guidance to other professionals to perform their jobs more effectively, advance their careers, and grow personally and professionally. When you write about what you know and love, writing comes naturally. And the more you write about those topics, the more credibility you will build with your audience and the media sources.

Build Your Résumé
Volunteers’ time, effort, and passion help drive the mission of the organization. At IMA, individuals are dedicated at all levels – from the local chapter level to the global board level. And volunteering is a continuous learning opportunity – start as a student volunteering on your college campus and continue as long as you are inspired and seek to inspire others. These opportunities are perfect for building your résumé by gaining leadership experience and other soft skills. There are endless opportunities for you to follow your passion while adding value to your community.

Z-fyDSGm6XivP5biogrTsURnMRPhzTAA4YJzaKcIb_sVolunteers At IMA
IMA genuinely appreciates the volunteers who not only built this association nearly a century ago but in many ways created a new profession. Our volunteers enable IMA to sustain its growth in the face of competition, consolidation, and commoditization. IMA’s volunteers at the global, national, and local community levels are truly a competitive asset that we cherish and that no other association can claim (for example, IMA has nearly 350 chapters, including 130 student chapters globally). In terms of ensuring mutual benefit – the “value in volunteerism” – there are many ways for you to be involved as an engaged, relevant, and inspired volunteer.

The current Chair of IMA’s Global Board of Directors, Joe Vincent, is the perfect example of lifelong volunteerism. He started volunteering before he graduated college for his local IMA chapter. He now has 40 years of leadership experience gathered at the local, regional, and global levels and continues to dedicate his time to the profession he’s passionate about. Read more about Joe’s most rewarding experiences of volunteering on LinkedIn.

Personally, I’m growing every day as a leader and business professional. Becoming CEO of an organization isn’t the end of the learning and growth journey. In many ways it’s the start of a new journey to inspire, to make a difference, and to touch a heart. My growth since becoming IMA’s CEO in 2008 is in no small part because of the countless volunteers I’ve worked with. Our volunteers truly have created moments that matter in how they donate time to their association, profession, and communities. I can tell endless stories of how volunteers took time off from their “day jobs” to escort me around when I make visits to the region and took the time to establish new connections and new relationships that truly make a difference.

I encourage you to support your community or a cause close to your heart because volunteers provide increasing value to the community or organization, but also you can take advantage of the benefits of it. And we at IMA extend our appreciation to our volunteers every hour, every day, and every week around the globe.

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson

Related Articles
Benefits of Volunteering — United Way
Volunteer Leadership – What’s In It For You? — Moments that Matter (Linda Devonish-Mills)

Change Management: Employee Transitions

Taking on a new system or initiative isn’t always an easy transition. Without employee buy-in, the project may risk not getting off the ground at all. But understanding the cycle of emotions that employees experience will help you craft a communication plan to ease the implementation process.

The Reason
Change is common in the business world, but that doesn’t mean employees embrace it with open arms. Implementing new systems and improved software help your business run smoothly, so why is there so much friction among employees during the implantation process?

For one, it’s a natural reaction to question the change – things work fine as they are, why do I need to learn something different? Another factor is an individual’s emotional intelligence and adaptability. Some people adapt more easily than others and are more welcoming of change. If you learn how to understand the emotional cycle of your employees, you’ll be able to break down the wall of resistance so that future implementations go smoother.

The Cycle
There are eight stages of the cycle (see Figure 1 from Managing Organizational Change in Operational Change Initiatives).

figure 1. change curve

The “curve” starts at normal production levels and dips as morale gets lower. Here’s a list of each of the stages explained:

Pre-Initiative: Employees are unaware of the changes and are used to the status quo.
Denial: Employees reject the change because they don’t believe it will happen based on past failures.
Anger, Pessimism, Despair: Employees experience negative emotions toward the project. They’re irritated about learning a new process that they didn’t request. In turn, their work productivity takes a downward turn.
Testing: Employee productivity improves when they get hands-on experience with the new system or software. They become more comfortable with the change.
Acceptance: Employees are finished training and accept their new roles.
Post-Initiative Success: Employees are fully trained and operate at a higher level than before the change occurred.

Communication is important in any company, but it’s especially key for successful change management.

The Plan
Once you understand the emotional cycle you can create a communication plan based on the pros and cons of human emotion. The plan allows you to assess each audience: how early do they have to be engaged, how often do they have to be engaged after the Pre-Initiative stage, and what medium to engage them in. (See Template 1 from Managing Organizational Change in Operational Change Initiatives for a guide.)

template 1. communication plan

In the beginning stages of the implementation, it’s important to have open and honest conversations with your team to ensure everyone understands the scope, timeline, and benefits of the project. Then you’ll be able to determine how often you need to communicate with each team member during the implementation.

How does your company deal with new implementations? Do you have a communication plan in place?

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson


Related Articles:

Managing Organizational Change in Operational Change Initiatives – IMA
Change Management Best Practices Guide – Queensland Government

Study NOW: Breaking Through Procrastination

“Stop putting it off.” “The exam date isn’t going to move, I have to start studying now.” “The books aren’t going to read themselves.” These are some common sayings you can use to motivate yourself to start studying for the big exam coming up. But, whether you’re a student working toward an A+ or a professional studying to earn a certification, telling yourself to study might not be motivational enough. Here are some ways I got through studying for the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) exam that might also work for you.

1. Make a checklist.Lao - quote - DW
Write down your goals in the order in which you want to accomplish them. Your first goal might be to read and take notes from chapter 3 of your textbook. Your next goal, say, for the following week would be to read chapter 4. Setting small goals in a relatively short amount of time will help you progress and feel accomplished. It’s like what Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

2. Reward yourself.
After you complete each small goal, reward yourself by doing something you like but have been putting off, like taking a hike or going for a run. Not only will it relax you, but it will de-stress your mind for the moment.

3. Picture success.
There’s nothing more motivating than having a clear vision of your end goal. It can be a tangible object that symbolizes your goal, like an empty frame awaiting your certificate, or an intangible one, like the increase in salary you may receive after earning a certification or college degree.*

4. Hold yourself accountable.
When I studied for the CMA exam, I set deadlines for myself and made a checklist. That way I was able to keep track of my progress and hold myself accountable for my success. I also involved other people in my journey – my family was very supportive, even though my daughter was a baby at the time, and my boss didn’t mind me studying during my lunch break.

5. Follow your passion.
Remind yourself why you chose the field of accounting. One reason I’m sure is the job opportunities that this field offers, but hopefully you also chose accounting because you find it interesting. Studying can be tough, but you don’t have to be an accounting nerd to enjoy working on a challenging accounting problem. If you don’t cram and you pace yourself, you might actually find studying a rewarding experience!

iStock_000014804702_Large - balance6. Maintain work/life balance.
Don’t avoid the most important things, and don’t make other things more important. Earning the CMA credential was important, but family was always my number one priority

7. Guard against constructive procrastination.
Essentially, don’t wait for the perfect conditions. You don’t have to paint the room or wash the dishes to get into the right mind-set. Someone I knew in college had to write a paper but couldn’t write it until he had the perfect desk. He found the perfect desk, but it was too late to hand in the paper.

The Time to Start Is Now
Studying doesn’t have to be tiresome or boring. If you do a little bit at a time and plan your schedule, you will eventually reach your goal. And don’t forget: Other people out there are just like you. So if you’re struggling and need a push, find a face-to-face study group that might be able to help you along the way.

How do you stay passionate about something you aren’t passionate about anymore?
Have you ever procrastinated on a project at work? How did you get through it?

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney


Related Articles

Tips for Studying for the CMA or CPA While Working – Accounting Web
How to Stay Motivated and Accomplish Anything – Forbes

How IR Affects Small Business

The International Integrated Reporting Framework was released by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) in December 2013. Since then, companies around the world have been working to implement the Framework to more cohesively and efficiently report on their ability to creat value over the short, medium and long term. So how does that impact small businesses within the larger picture? I asked Brad Monterio, managing director of Colcomgroup and vice chair of IMA’s Technology Solutions & Practices Committee, about Integrated Reporting (<IR>) and what small business owners should expect for the future.

LDM: What can <IR> do for small businesses?Quotes-03-02-15
BM: <IR> benefits businesses of all sizes. As popularity grows for <IR> around the world, a common misperception is that it’s only for the largest companies or publicly traded companies. The purpose behind <IR> is to provide a way to tell a company’s unique story to stakeholders; link its business strategy to its business model; and report how it will create value over the short, medium, and long term.

LDM: Are there any downfalls?
BM: As companies become more familiar with the <IR> Framework from the IIRC, there will be less of a learning curve for them. <IR> is an evolved way of looking at not only how the company reports information to stakeholders but how it operates internally. This manifests through a culture of integrated thinking where the areas of the business work more collaboratively toward its goals, which is a shift in dynamic for many small businesses. The shift takes time to adjust to.

LDM: Small businesses have fewer staff and smaller revenue pools than large companies. Could that potentially hold them back from integrating <IR>?
BM: <IR> isn’t intended to increase the reporting burden; in fact, quite the opposite. It’s designed to help improve and streamline the disclosure process (to make reporting better, not bigger). Leveraging existing disclosure vehicles, such as financial statements and annual reports, to communicate <IR> information helps smaller businesses. A culture of integrated thinking will help businesses collaborate internally and be more efficient with their resources as well as how they share information, reducing redundancies.

LDM: Why is <IR> important for small businesses?
BM: <IR> has many benefits and outcomes, including keeping pace with or surpassing competitors. But those aren’t the only reasons to undertake a transition to <IR>. Linking the company strategy and business model to how a company uses all of its resources in that business model Quote2-03-02-15helps a company more clearly understand what’s happening inside its business. This means they can more accurately portray what’s happening to stakeholders outside their business and communicate their value more effectively.

LDM: What else do small-business leaders need to know about <IR>?
BM: <IR> isn’t sustainability reporting as you might see with GRI or CSR reports. Sustainability reports look at both financial and nonfinancial information but don’t typically go as far as an integrated report in linking strategy and business model to future economic value. Additionally, actual accounting standards for sustainability topics in the market require companies to report on material nonfinancial matters. This helps streamline the reports and bring comparability to this content in all types of reports.

If you’re an IMA member, you can participate in a webinar that Brad is moderating on March 10 called “Integrated Reporting and Integrated Thinking: Which Comes First?” – which is part of IMA’s new Tech Talk series. If you aren’t a member, read his article “Integrated Reporting: A Chat with the Experts” from Strategic Finance. You can also read more on the Technology Solutions & Practices Committee’s LinkUp community.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA, CAE


Related Articles

Leading Practices in Integrated ReportingStrategic Finance
International Integrated Reporting Framework – IIRC

A CEO’s Reading List

Becoming a CEO isn’t the end of the highway—it just means you’ve made it to the expressway. It’s the beginning of another journey. You count on more people, and more people count on you to make the right decisions and do the right thing. You influence a broader audience and become a primary face of the organization.

With this dynamic role comes more responsibility and challenges, and continuous learning and growth are vital to keep pace. You can get certifications, go to conferences and seminars, or travel the world to meet new people and learn about their best practices. Another way to learn and grow is through reading. These are the most influential books I’ve read that have helped me shape IMA into the organization it is today, one that we are all proud of in terms of its contribution to enrich careers, organizations, and the public interest.

My Top 5 Books



Trust, Inc. by Barbara Brooks Kimmel taught me how to be a more responsible leader and to lead with integrity and trust as a table stake for performance and culture. The book is full of case studies about what works and what doesn’t. Being transparent is important for a business to succeed. I had the honor of authoring a chapter in this book.






21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell taught me how to build followership—the great teams and board of directors with whom you work with every day. If you trust, empower, and enrich people, they will follow you, respect you, and trust you in return. And, in effect, they won’t be afraid of expressing their true feelings and opinions, which leads to the next book.





Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott talks about having open and honest conversations with active listening skills. A responsible leader listens to his or her team’s opinions, even if they are in disagreement, and opens the lines of communication. The extremes of shy agreement or bullying disagreement just don’t work.






A Sense of Urgency by John P. Kotter taught me to not rest on my laurels. If you want change to happen, you have to act immediately with a sense of urgency. Be open to change and adapt to the new environment. A CEO must be flexible in a changing world.




The Advantage: WhThe-Advantagey Organization Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick M. Lencioni emphasizes the importance of a cohesive leadership team and a strong, clear vision of the future. It’s easy and fun to read because Lencioni writes in a narrative format that’s very relatable.





Live the Lessons

You would think your summer reading list would end at graduation, but reading is one of the easiest ways to continuously learn. The lessons I’ve learned from these books have helped me on my journey as IMA’s President and CEO. I’ve implemented many of these lessons into IMA’s business culture, and all staff and IMA volunteers live by these standards as it is our duty to our members and the global profession.

Which books are currently on your reading list? What are some lessons you’ve learned through reading?

Written by Jeff Thomson, CMA, CAE
Follow me on Twitter @ima_JeffThomson




Related Articles:
Read 2014’s Best Business Books In Two Hours – Forbes
If You Want to Be a Big Deal, Never Stop Learning – Entrepreneur

What Exactly Is a Professor In Residence?

If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Professor in Residence (PIR)?” you aren’t alone. I get this question often, as my role is a bit more ambiguous than, say, a lawyer’s or teacher’s job. Typically, a PIR works at a university or college and facilitates research, teaching, public service, and other activities. But my position within a nonprofit organization is unique, dynamic, and provides so much more.

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I joined IMA in 2006 as Director of Research after having been a college professor for quite a number of years. Three years later, I was asked to also assume the role of IMA’s PIR. I accepted, as this was an opportunity to advance the management accounting profession by connecting with students and faculty around the world and draw on my extensive academic experience to design programs aimed at meeting this market’s very unique needs.

I work with IMA to achieve these goals by helping prepare the next generation of finance and accounting professionals who will work in business. One way we do that is through our CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) program. Another is by supporting faculty teaching and research efforts.

With that in mind, one program I created that helps academics stay connected is IMA’s Campus Advocate program. Having taught at a school where I was essentially the only faculty member interested in teaching management accounting, I saw a need for a program that enabled faculty interested in management accounting education to network, ask questions, and share best practices.

Student Development
Of course, students – the future of our profession – are a key part of the picture. I’ve been able to develop several programs with the goal of ensuring that students are adequately prepared for their future roles. A key consideration has been the realization that every school has differing programs, goals, and resources, so it’s important that IMA offer a variety of programs from which to choose.fresh springs isolated

The IMA Accounting Honor Society, to be launched in March, will recognize high-achieving accounting students. Not solely restricted to students interested in management accounting, I see this society as a way of recognizing and encouraging students to pursue the diverse and rewarding careers available in the accounting profession.

Advocate for the Profession
Being IMA’s PIR has enabled me to advocate for IMA and the management accounting profession. I get to interact with people all over the world who are passionate about the future of the organization and the profession. I find this aspect of the position very rewarding, in addition to the ability to help students find the career path that is best for them.

Regardless of whether or not a student initially pursues a public accounting career, more than 75% of all accountants end up pursuing careers in management accounting. To this end I formed a Joint Curriculum Task Force with the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the American Accounting Association (AAA), which I chair. Our Task Force has developed an Accounting Education Framework that addresses these diverse education needs and has helped inform other curricular initiatives.

Changing Your Role
The combination of passion and talent led me to my position at IMA. You, too, could get so much more out of your position. Don’t be afraid to add to your job description or expand your perspective. There’s a wide variety of career options out there for you, many of which you may never have even considered!

What aspects of your current role would you change if you had the opportunity?

Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA
Follow me on Twitter @RaefLawson



Related Links:

IMA Student and Academic Members Page – IMA
Faculty Titles Directory – Temporary Non-Track Positions – University of Connecticut

Top 3 Benefits of Advocacy

Advocacy is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” For nonprofit associations, in particular, advocacy and relationships with other influential organizations is of utmost importance. You can show your advocacy by writing articles and comment letters or taking part in meetings with standard setters, giving a voice to your membership.

Advocacy demonstrates an organization’s dedication, loyalty, and passion for a cause that may be the heartbeat of its members. Advocacy provides many benefits for organizations, but here’s what I chose as the top three.

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There are a number of ways to protect your stakeholders’ interests, in turn creating trust. For one, sending out research surveys helps your organization get a pulse of what members need and want and help provide appropriate products and services to specific locales. This also expands your reach and opens up new markets for your organization.

In addition, you can create committees dedicated to advocating for your cause that will give your membership a voice. These committees are at the forefront of the cause that gauge stakeholder interest through meetings and voice those opinions to standard setters. This creates trust among members, and when members trust their organization, they become loyal and more engaged in the organization’s volunteer community.

Increase in Volunteer Engagement
If your organization has loyal members and is advocating for their interests, chances are that interest in becoming a volunteer will grow. IMA’s Financial Reporting Committee, Small Business Financial and Regulatory Affairs Committee, Technology Solutions and Practices Committee, and Committee on Ethics are made up of volunteer leaders who increasingly advocate for best practices in the management accounting profession through articles in Strategic Finance and IMA Online News.

The increase in member engagement will help you retain members by giving them the opportunity to have their voices heard and creating an atmosphere of unity and commitment to a common cause. Then you’ll be able to rely more on volunteers around the world to advocate for your cause.

Volunteers are essential for running a nonprofit organization, and reminding them of how valuable they are is equally as important since they are the feet on the street that keeps your organization running.

iStock_000024796735LargeBuild Partnerships and Alliances
When you connect with other organizations, you strengthen your foothold in the industry and make your voice of advocacy stronger. To create partnerships, research organizations that advocate for similar causes, have a similar membership base, and are in a similar industry.

Draw upon these alliances when writing comment letters to take advantage of the power of numbers. Representatives from large firms can all address the same issues, but the letter will be stronger if all the firms collaborate on it together. This will help your organization determine the future of your industry or cause.

Advance Your Cause
When I came on board with IMA, my position as Director of Professional Advocacy was newly created. As time went on, we realized the need for a full-time liaison between IMA’s technical committees and IMA members. So my position evolved to fill a need in the marketplace, and I’m proud of the committees we’ve created to increase our advocacy on behalf of IMA membership.

All nonprofit organizations should create advocacy groups to advance their cause. Providing opportunities to give input will give your members a voice in the industry. And working with partner organizations and loyal members-turned-volunteers strengthens your advocacy voice around the globe.

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

Related Articles

2014 Annual Report – IMA
Advancing the Profession Through AdvocacyStrategic Finance